A Preview of Fair Weather Enemies, by Sawyer North

Fair Weather Enemies by Sawyer North 2020I am dogged in my pursuit of new books. I subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace. I read publishers quarterly catalogs. I read Advance magazine. However, the path to discovering a new book is sometimes fortuitous—by chance rather than by design. Such was the case with author Sawyer North. Our serendipitous introduction on Twitter makes his debut historical romance novel, Fair Weather Enemies, all the sweeter because of the journey.

Seriously, what Janeite would not want to follow @MrDarcyExplains? Check out his description of himself:

“I write Regency romance. I’m a man. Weird, I know. My wife is just happy we read the same stuff now. But she’s cooler. #ReadARegency

His tweets are witty and funny too.

With all of these intriguing attributes (thinks he is Mr. Darcy? a man writing Regency romance? and his wicked wit?) I had to read his book. I did not regret it and am still smiling.

Sawyer was kind enough to indulge this Janeite and historical romance lover with an excerpt for my readers. I hope you will give Fair Weather Enemies a try. Just think of a bantering Lizzy and Darcy (during the first proposal scene) on a treasure hunt through England, and X marks the spot.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The Hancocks and Ashfords have had a long-standing feud between their families long before Miss Jane Hancock couldn’t stand the sight of gentleman farmer Adam Ashford. But after both families fall on hard times and an unscrupulous creditor forces Jane and Adam to sign a devil’s bargain, they’ll finally understand the true meaning of keeping your enemies close at hand.

The terms of this bargain? Locate a lost treasure shrouded in deception and mystery.

The catch? Only one can claim it to win…the loser is left to ruin.

As Jane and Adam embark on a trek throughout England, they plan to hate their adversary, no matter how attractive, generous, and kind they are.

Sometimes, plans change…

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT:

Like virtuous knights of old, Adam and Barlow stood guard between the moody brood sow and the ladies. Fortunately, the large pig seemed content to remain motionless while emitting periodic grunts. As the wagon bumped along toward evening, Adam shoved aside the snuffling nose of an inquisitive piglet to better view Jane. She sat near the front of the wagon engaged in low conversation with Hester. Sleeping piglets sprawled around her, and one lay nestled beneath her hand. He did not know what might be considered proper attire for traveling with swine, but Jane’s appearance transcended her situation. A well-worn riding habit of faded blue covered most of a sturdy cotton walking dress, illuminating the blue of her eyes. Her prominent cheekbones, narrow nose, and dimpled chin seemed appropriate to a miller’s daughter—delicately bold. Not unlike her general demeanor, he decided. He did not notice Jane’s gaze until she spoke to him.

“Do you wish to say something, sir?”

He cut his eyes away quickly to hide the fact that he had been staring. Her gentle laugh informed him that she already knew. He looked her way again. “Would you find my presence overly odious if I joined you for a bit of conversation? I have exhausted my discussion points with Mr. Barlow and the brood sow.”

He motioned toward the solicitor and the massive pig, both of whom were sleeping soundly. Jane blinked three times in rapid succession but retained the smile. Her hand patted the wagon bed next to her. He moved to her side and sat, with the blissful piglet as a buffer between them.

“Thank you,” he said.

“I believe I will rest now,” said Hester overly loudly. She rolled away to feign sleep. Jane peeked at her aunt and shook her head. She turned to regard Adam with a steady confident gaze that he found lacking in many women her age. He reluctantly commended her for that.

“So…what might we discuss?”

He glanced down at the sleeping piglet. “I suppose we should begin with your new friend. He seems a bit young for you.”

“Sir,” she said with mock umbrage. “I must begin by offering offense on behalf of the pig, as ‘he’ is a ‘she’.”

“My apologies to the pig, then. Perhaps the odor has dulled my powers of observation.”

She nodded. “On behalf of Lily, I accept.”

“Lily?”

“She has taken a particular liking to me, it seems. I cannot very well continue calling her ‘piglet’ as if her regard meant nothing.”

He laughed unexpectedly. “Of course. Very sensible. One should not slight a pig unnecessarily. Unfortunately for me, the sow seems rather disinterested in my friendship.”

“And this disappoints you?”

“Immensely. I crave nothing more than the sentimental regard of those in my company.”

She cocked her head and frowned. “Even those predisposed to despising the very ground on which you walk?”

“Especially those.”

“Why, may I ask? Is it not natural for opponents to maintain a healthy disdain for one another?”

Adam looked away, uncomfortable with the directness of her questions. “I suppose it is.” Then he cut his eyes toward her. “After all, how could we remain, enemies, if we ceased hating each other?”

His comment appeared to startle her. “We? I was speaking of piglets. Now, you talk of us. This all seems rather unexpected.”

“Right. But let us not speak of piglets. Let us instead discuss the merits of remaining enemies. After you, Jane.”

She placed a finger dramatically against her chin. “The prospect of despising you gets me out of bed in the morning. I rise each day thinking, ‘how might I ruin Adam Ashford today?’ Your turn, sir.”

He pursed his lips in thought. “My disdain for you serves as a good reference point. Having a reliable enemy allows me to see all others in a better light. It allows me to sort people into two convenient categories—my enemy and everyone else.”

“Should not your categories be more nuanced?”

“Such as?”

“Such as friend of your enemy, enemy of your enemy, enemy of your friend, and those you truly love? To name just a few?”

The sparkle of her eyes made clear her amusement with the discussion. This pleased him, though he did not know why. “I see your point. Perhaps I should reconsider my categories. But see here, we have identified only two merits of maintaining a healthy hatred for each other. Surely, there are others.”

She nodded agreement. “There is at least one more.”

“And that is?”

“Convenient scapegoating. Having an enemy tells me whom I might blame for all the ills of my life. For all the ills of the world, actually. Without a proper enemy, I might be forced to consider my own role in such unpleasant things. How terribly inconvenient.”

He chuckled again. “Well said. I, too, find comfort in having such a readily available scapegoat. Keeps me from the need for self-reflection. And everyone knows that gentlemen abhor such distressing and taxing thoughts.”

“Just as I suspected.” She giggled, much to his surprise. An awkward pause overcame them, as often happens when conversation trends perilously toward painful truths.

Chapter 8, pages 48 – 51

ADVANCE PRAISE:

  • “Superb comic timing and witty banter adds some of the best content to any historical romance I have read in a long time.”—Gwendalyn’s Books
  • “Wow, the detail in this story is great! Grab a copy of this one and settle in for a great read. I can’t wait for more from this author!”—The Reading Cafe
  • “I couldn’t put the book down until I had read the final page. The writing is well done and the plot moved along at a good pace.  I just sorry there aren’t any more novels from Mr. North. I definitely look forward to his next one.”—Debra Elizabeth, bestselling author of Love by Secrets
  • A fun, witty, romance. Sawyer North is a sparkling new talent in Regency romance.”—Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It   

AUTHOR BIO:

After self-publishing science fiction novels over a period of years, Sawyer North made the truly unusual move into historical romance. Although romance is a strong thread in nearly all his works, he came to straight-up, nothing-but-romance only after turning fifty. Since then, he is plagued by the question, “What took me so long?” His awakening began rather innocuously when he casually watched the 2015 version of Poldark. Before he knew it, he was falling headlong into the abyss of historical romance and read fifteen such novels over a three-month span. However, no number could sufficiently scratch his itch for more, so he did what any writer would do and began constructing stories of his own. In April of 2019, he received his first contract with Entangled Publishing, and in February 2020, his debut historical romance, Fair Weather Enemies, was published.

Fair Weather Enemies, by Sawyer North
Entangled Publishing (February 10, 2020)
Trade paperback & eBook (270) pages
ISBN: 979-8601939171

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIEBOUND | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

Cover image, book description, excerpt, and author bio courtesy of Entangled Publishing © 2020; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, Austenprose.com

A Preview of The Austen Girls, by Lucy Worsley

The Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley 2020I am always encouraged when new Jane Austen-inspired young adult novels hit my radar. The Austen Girls is a welcome addition to the Austenesque genre. Written by historian, television celebrity, and Janeite Lucy Worsley, it is the latest addition to her series of novels featuring young women from history. Following Lady Mary (2018), Eliza Rose (2018), and My Name is Victoria (2018), The Austen Girls is inspired by the lives of Jane Austen’s nieces–cousins Fanny and Anna Austen.

The novel is being released in the UK on April 2 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books and is aimed at girls ages 11 – 14. For those who subscribe to Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine, Worsley is featured on the cover and has the lead article in the March/April issue including an exclusive interview about the novel by editor Tim Bullamore. Besides the two heroines, Fanny and Anna, their aunt Jane plays an important part in the narrative and many other Austen family members support the story.

After a persistent pursuit of an excerpt for my readers, I was able to connect with the staff at Bloomsbury in London who generously sent a portion of the second chapter for our enjoyment. My review will follow next month. On an aside, please do not confuse this new title with a nonfiction book about Jane & Cassandra Austen, by Helen Amy with the same title. It is also delightful, but an entirely different genre and topic.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

What Might the Future Hold for Jane Austen’s Nieces?

Would she ever find a real-life husband?

Would she even find a partner to dance with at tonight’s ball? She just didn’t know.

Anna Austen has always been told she must marry rich. Her future depends upon it. While her dear cousin Fanny has a little more choice, she too is under pressure to find a suitor.

But how can either girl know what she wants? Is finding love even an option? The only person who seems to have answers is their Aunt Jane. She has never married. In fact, she’s perfectly happy, so surely being single can’t be such a bad thing?

The time will come for each of the Austen girls to become the heroines of their own stories. Will they follow in Jane’s footsteps?

In this witty, sparkling novel of choices, popular historian LUCY WORSLEY brings alive the delightful life of Jane Austen as you’ve never seen it before.

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Continue reading

A Preview of When Duty Calls: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Belén Paccagnella

When Duty Calls, by Belen Paccagnella (2020)Being a book geek, I am not ashamed to say that I get chills when I see a beautiful book cover. I am drawn to them like a moth to the flame. The mesmerizing design of When Duty Calls is by Janet Taylor. It is her best to date. Bar none. Forgive this indulgence. I just had to gush about it for a moment!

Okay, now on to the book that we are previewing here today by Belén Paccagnella. When Duty Calls was written close to twenty years ago and posted online as Jane Austen fanfiction. It has been resurrected and published as a book by Meryton Press. You don’t see that happen very often. Maybe, like never!

I am thinking back to 2000 and the state of Austen fanfiction at the time. Linda Berdoll’s The Bar Sinister was self-published in 1999 (and later reissued as Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife in 2004), and Pamela Aidan was posting her Fitzwilliam Darcy Gentleman trilogy on the Republic of Pemberley fanfic board. It takes me back to the early days of Jane Austen fanfiction. It says a lot for the story in When Duty Calls that it is still viable after all these years and I am intrigued to read it. How about you?

The author Belén Paccagnella has kindly offered an exclusive excerpt and her publisher is giving away eight eBook copies through Rafflecopter of When Duty Calls. The excerpt follows this introduction and the details of the giveaways are at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The Netherfield ball brings about many changes for the population of Meryton, and more so for the female residents of Longbourn. Mr. Bingley’s departure leaves the eldest, Jane Bennet, heartbroken whilst Mr. Collins’s proposal induces Miss Elizabeth to make a hasty escape. During her flight, she happens upon Mr. Darcy, a gentleman she despises. A moment of solitude in the woods leads to rather improper behavior, and the couple departs with the promise they will tell no one about their minor indiscretion. When their secret is finally uncovered, marriage becomes the only solution to saving Elizabeth from social disgrace. Her other grudges against Mr. Darcy are amplified by resentment and the prospect of spending her life with a man she can never respect. Nonetheless, the marriage takes place, forcing the young couple to deal with their pride and prejudices as husband and wife.

Originally posted online almost twenty years ago, this Regency tale of redemption narrates the struggles of two people, their differences, and their rocky start. But will they succeed in overcoming lies, misunderstandings, and their own errors to finally find love?

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Continue reading

Costuming in the EMMA. Movie with Fashion Historian Hilary Davidson

Emma and Mr. Knightley dance at the Crown Inn, Focus Features © 2020

The new film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn opened in general release in the US on March 6th. This enchanting and visually stunning interpretation of Austen’s classic tale of Miss Emma Woodhouse as the misapplying matchmaker of Highbury has received raves from the press and viewers alike.

The costumes beautifully define the film, greatly adding to the characterization and the drama. Joining us here today is fashion historian Hilary Davidson who has generously contributed a guest blog to share her insights and impressions of the costumes made for the new film by Academy Award-winning designer Alexandra Byrne.

Welcome, Hilary. 

Emma. is the best-costumed screen adaptation of Austen ever made. Strong words but delighted ones from a dress historian who has recently written a book on Regency fashion and seen a lot of odd screen versions of the period’s dress. Costume designer Alexandra Byrne and her team studied many original garments in British historical collections and threw all their research into a gloriously realised vision of circa. 1815 dress.

Comfort (1796) colored etching from the nypl.digitalcollections

Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, The New York Public Library. “Comfort” The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Director Autumn de Wilde clearly adores the details of dress and pays them great attention. Throughout the film, we are shown the components of women’s dress and how they were arranged, from the knee-high stockings to the chemise and stays that helped create the illusion of a natural body. Emma demonstrates that Regency women didn’t wear underpants in a pose taken straight from Comfort [image]. Mr. Knightley is dressed from the skin to coat in a sequence I’m going to use in teaching fashion history. Continue reading

An Exclusive Q&A with Jennifer Kloester, Georgette Heyer’s Biographer

Georgette Heyer Banner

My regular readers and friends will remember how much I admire and enjoy reading the Queen of Regency Romance, Georgette Heyer. We reviewed all her historical novels during a month-long celebration here on Austenprose in 2011.

While I continue to work through the long list of her books, there are scholars who have read them all and studied her life and work. The first among them is Dr. Jennifer Kloester. Austenprose reviewed her Georgette Heyer: A Biography of a Bestseller when it released in 2011 and have followed her career ever since. I was delighted when she agreed to an exclusive interview. Her extensive knowledge of Heyer and her own talent and brilliance are dazzling.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Kloester to Austenprose today. Additional questions by readers are welcome, so please have your share of the conversation!

What was the first Georgette Heyer book that you read, and what were your first impressions?

The first Heyer novel I ever saw was Cotillion but the first one I ever read was These Old Shades. I loved it! I’d never read anything like it and it only made me long for more. Luckily the tiny YWCA library in the remote mining town where I was living in Papua New Guinea had a wealth of Heyer novels and I soon became immersed in her world. I remember being carried away by the story and characters and the language–– oh, it was wonderful, so alive and fresh and co completely convincing. Even when I didn’t understand a particular word, Heyer’s skill always meant I got the gist of the meaning. Her characters lived for me then and they live for me now.

Why were you inspired to write a biography of her life? Continue reading

A Cover Reveal and Preview of Gentleman Jim, by Mimi Matthews

A Cover Reveal and Preview of Gentleman Jim, by Mimi MatthewsI have great news to broadcast today. Bestselling historical romance author Mimi Matthews has a new book in the queue. We are thrilled to share with our readers everything we know about the novel and reveal the stunning cover!

Gentleman Jim arrives on November 3, 2020, continuing the author’s previous novels containing intriguing and endearing heroes and heroines set in Regency and Victorian England. This new novel was inspired by Mimi’s admiration of classic literature and the traditional Regency romance genre and features adventure, revenge, and of course romance. Here is a description of the book from the author, and then the big cover reveal.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A swashbuckling, second chance Regency romance, inspired by the author’s love of Georgette Heyer romances, and of Henry Fielding’s eighteenth century novel Tom Jones.

She couldn’t forget…

Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nick is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nick escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nick never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.

He wouldn’t forgive…

After years spent on the continent, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare has finally come home to England. Tall, blond, and dangerous, he’s on a mission to restore his family’s honor. If he can mete out a bit of revenge along the way, so much the better. But he hasn’t reckoned for Maggie Honeywell. She’s bold and beautiful—and entirely convinced he’s someone else.

As danger closes in, St. Clare is torn between love and vengeance. Will he sacrifice one to gain the other? Or with a little luck—and a lot of daring—will he find a way to have them both?

READ AN EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT OF GENTLEMAN JIM: Continue reading

A Preview of A Different Kind of Woman: A Variation on Mansfield Park (Mansfield Trilogy Book 3), by Lona Manning

A Different Kind of Woman by Lona Manning 2020I am happy to welcome author Lona Manning to Austenprose today. She has graciously offered to share her latest Austenesque novel, A Different Kind of Woman with us. Inspired by Mansfield Park, this is her third book in her Mansfield Trilogy, all of which are variations on Jane Austen’s original. 

Manning’s Mansfield Trilogy sets out to alter the original Regency-era story by pivoting the relationship of its main characters: Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram. There are also other changes that some will find beneficial and engaging. Are you as curious as I am if Fanny Price is no longer priggish? What is married life like for Edmund and his new wife?

If you are in the mood to experience a re-imagined Mansfield Park, then this is the series for you. Check out the book description and the exclusive excerpt supplied by the author. 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: 

In the exciting conclusion of the Mansfield Trilogy, the lives and destinies of Jane Austen’s well-known characters are deftly blended with dramatic historical events. Fanny Price is torn between her love for William Gibson and her duty to her family. In London, Fanny’s brother John meets his match in a feisty bookseller’s daughter. And Edmund Bertram’s wife Mary meets the charismatic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and risks everything to gain the power and influence she craves. Regency England comes alive in this tale of love, loss and second chances set against the real-life backdrop of political turmoil in England. 

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT:  Continue reading

Thaw, by Anniina Sjöblom—A Review

Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom 2019Epistolary novels were all the rage in the late eighteenth century prior to and during Jane Austen’s early writing career. One does not run across novels written in letters very often today. The fact that characters do not meet face-to-face is restrictive and can be a challenge to readers.

Thaw, by Anniina Sjöblom harkens back to Austen’s first epistolary format before she re-wrote Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice. Not only is it a novel written entirely in letters, but it is also told in the first-person by one character—Elizabeth Bennet—and is a variation on Austen’s classic tale. With all of these unconventional restrictions and plot changes, one does not know what to expect. If this complex hook is not enough to get your attention, dear reader, then you are not paying attention.

The story begins with a letter by Elizabeth to her sister Jane from London on Christmas day. It is one month after the ball at Netherfield and Elizabeth is married to Mr. Darcy. Their marriage, however, is not the HEA that we imagined after Austen’s classic tale, but a patched-up business due to a devastating scandal. While walking near a frozen pond, Elizabeth’s misstep lands her in the icy waters. Injured and freezing, Mr. Darcy rescues her and returns her to her family, but not before a local resident witnessed the mishap and is telling a different story. Elizabeth’s reputation is ruined, and Darcy, being an honorable man, agrees to marry her. Neither is happy about the forced marriage, yet agree that they must marry.

So, there is no longer three-quarters of the story that Austen wrote. Just jump straight to Elizabeth as Mistress of Pemberley writing long missives to her Aunt Gardiner and her sister Jane about her miserable existence as the wife of a surly, disagreeable man. That is the big leap-of-faith part for readers in this variation. You will need to disarm reproof and just go with it. Continue reading

A Preview of The Jane Austen Dating Agency: An Uplifting Romantic Comedy, by Fiona Woodifield

The Jane Austen Dating Agency (2020)Happy Valentine’s Day Janeites!

Jane Austen has been attributed as the mother of romance, so in honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s all crack open Persuasion and let Captain Wentworth pierce our soul and Mr. Darcy say to us, “dearest loveliest (insert your name here).”

In celebration of a holiday devoted entirely to romance, we are previewing a new romantic comedy that is Jane Austen-inspired. Debut novelist Fiona Woodifield and I crossed paths on Twitter and I snagged an exclusive excerpt from her new contemporary novel, The Jane Austen Dating Agency.

Fiona’s heroine Sophie is a dating disaster and has a lot to learn before she gets her HEA. I hope you are in the mood for some laughs with that romance today while you wash down Godiva chocolate with a perfectly paired glass of wine.

Many thanks to Fiona and her publisher Bloodhound Books for letting me feature The Jane Austen Dating Agency. I hope you give it a try. It’s very reasonably priced as $.99 and is sure to make you smile.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Does true romance really exist?

Sophie Johnson is young, intelligent and attractive. So, when she lands the dream position of Sales Executive at a leading fashion magazine, it appears she has it all.  But in reality, she hates her job, is sick of her controlling mother and is a dating disaster.

Then she discovers The Jane Austen Dating Agency, an exclusive club for ladies who want to meet real gentlemen and believes her luck has changed. And when Sophie meets Darcy Drummond, she thinks her dreams have come true. That is until she discovers he is arrogant and hard-headed.

So, when Daniel Becks steps into her life, she thinks she’s found the one. But is he really all he seems?

The Jane Austen Dating Agency is for anyone who has ever dreamed of romance and wondered if it really exists.

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Continue reading